HPC Interviews

LUMI: a new world-class supercomputer to support European research

On October 21, a press conference with video greetings from high-level Finnish Ministers celebrated the signature of the $160M+ contract of LUMI (Large Unified Modern Infrastructure), precursor to exa-scale supercomputers between the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) and the selected system supplier Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

With the operational phase starting now, the plan is to have the new LUMI system available by mid-2021 with a capacity to execute more than 375 petaflops or more than 375 million billion calculations per second, with a theoretical peak performance of more than 550 petaflops per second. LUMI represents an exceptional milestone to accelerate the European roadmap to achieve exa-scale computing. It is the next significant step in supercomputing that will deliver 5-10 times faster performance than today’s machines. Thanks to its unprecedented computational capacity, this new HPC system, located in  CSC’s data centre in Kajaani (Finland) will rank among the top five most machine-competitive and green supercomputers in the world, with a lifespan of five years.

The LUMI supercomputer also fits in the Digital and Green Deal policies of the European Commission, as it uses 100% renewable carbon neutral energy. Moreover, its waste heat will account for about 20% of the district heating in the city of Kajaani, reducing the entire city’s carbon footprint.

GÉANT is in very close collaboration with the major High Performance Computing (HPC) centres and organisations in Europe, including the FENIX Research Infrastructure, LUMI and Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE), to develop solutions for enabling access to HPC facilities via federated access with advanced authorization capabilities. In this context, GÉANT has joined the PUHURI Reference Group and is working with LUMI in the design and implementation of Authentication and Authorisation solutions that will enable seamless access to the EuroHPC exa-scale resources.

We interviewed LUMI Program Director, Pekka Manninen, about the possibilities and prospects of the new HPC system.

Dr. Manninen, how do you see LUMI changing European scientific research in the next five years?

LUMI will be a key research infrastructure for all Europe in the next five years, providing a modern environment for data-driven research for a wide range of scientific disciplines and use cases, designed for the convergence of high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, and big data. In addition to its impressive capabilities, which will enable many important scientific discoveries during the lifetime of the system, it will be a platform for cross-country collaboration as well as a collaboration of academic and commercial research and innovation. We hope we are paving a new way to procure, operate, and utilise leadership-class supercomputers as true European collaboration, placing physical systems where it is economically and ecologically most sensible, and focus the joint effort on software and applications.

Supercomputers enable the fight against pandemics, a topic more relevant than ever before. How will LUMI contribute to the fight against COVID-19? 

Any supercomputer will not solve a problem on their own, but they need to be seen as tools for scientists. We hope that LUMI’s capabilities in analysing massive datasets with state-of-the-art data analytics methods will help researchers find hidden correlations that will bring breakthroughs in finding treatments and making good policies. We are also building capabilities to enable the handling of GDPR-subjected sensitive data in the system, which would allow for employing patient data in the modelling. Furthermore, LUMI will feature a “director’s share” ad-hoc resource allocation mechanism, which will be a fast track access for these kinds of mission and time-critical studies, of which the fight against COVID-19 is a prime example.

What are you most excited about with this project? 

So many things! First, I think the system’s architectural design is very modern and up-to-date, working towards the convergence of HPC and cloud computing, as well as the convergence of HPC, AI, and big data. I am also equally excited about the operations as a collaborative effort of 10 countries. We have already demonstrated the value of working together on many scopes (strategic level, operations management level, specialist level) in system design and procurement, so I am really looking forward to pooling and sharing the ten countries’ competencies for the good of the whole user base.

 CSC is organising a roadshow to explain the new HPC system and foster a discussion on how the Finnish research, development and innovation field can benefit from LUMI. Check the event near to you on their website.

About the LUMI consortium

LUMI is co-funded with a total budget of EUR 144.5 million by the EuroHPC JU and the LUMI Consortium, which is composed of the following countries: Finland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland.

About CSC

CSC, IT Center for Science Ltd, is a non-profit state enterprise with special tasks. As part of the national research system, CSC develop, integrate and provide high-quality information technology services and ensure that Finland remains at the forefront of development. CSC is part of the GÉANT’s Association as a member of NORDUnet (Nordic Infrastructure for Research and Education).


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